Hello all you zombified polar bears and welcome back to Recap the Realm!
Today, we’re serving up elation and disappointment in equal measure as we try to catch our breaths and stop our pounding hearts. “Beyond the Wall” was a frustrating and amazing episode, and boy have we not been able to shut up about it.
Lord MWB: Hope you’re all ready, cus I’m gonna rant!
The further away from the books that Game of Thrones strays, the more it becomes like a sprawling D&D campaign. The complexity of character that so defined the early seasons—and is essential to the books—is dropped in favor of spectacle and sprawling action. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; TV is a visual medium after all, and there’s no way the show could have ever hoped to match the scope of the story told in the books. It’s necessary to look at the books and the show as two completely different types of stories. The books are complex, nuanced, deep fantasy with serious themes; the show is now incredibly light fantasy with great action and fun characters that maybe takes itself just a little too seriously. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are pretty talented guys, but this season has proved just how far behind GRRM they are. They may know the general story beats that George is going to hit, but they do not have the skill to connect those beats in a very satisfying way.
Not to say that they’re terrible. In a way, they can’t really be blamed. They are beholden to George’s story, but his story isn’t finished yet. It was clear from the beginning that they would deviate from the books, but I think as the end of the written material rapidly approached and they started to realize that they were going to have to go it alone for the last stretch, they wound up straying further than they ever intended and wrote themselves into a bit of a hole. It’s unfortunate, but it does serve to keep us from knowing exactly where the books are going. The show is, to me, now just an extended trailer for the books and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Beyond the Wall” showcased both the strengths and the weaknesses in the new, bookless telling of this story.
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I want to start with the good. Pretty much everything beyond the Wall was fantastic. The dialogue was funny, the characters had great chemistry, the action was phenomenal, and ONE OF THE DRAGONS DIED YA’LL!
This part of the episode was a whole hell of a lot of fun, even if the premise was undeniably weak. This is what I mean when I say the show is like a D&D campaign. You have all the standard character classes (Paladin – Jon, Barbarian – Tormund, Cleric – Thoros, etc…), you have magic swords, you have hordes of low-level fodder for the heroes to kill and gain EXP, and the Hound even made a quip about this being Beric’s last life as if they were in a video game. It’s not very deep, but man is it a lot of fun. And Tormund basically forcing himself to be the Hound’s new BFF is as hilarious as it is adorable. And all the broing out definitely upped the stakes as the party was surrounded and seemingly all hope was lost. Nikkie will go into all of this more than I will, so I just want to highlight the scene where Tormund almost died. I felt it, guys. His cries for help were very realistic, and I was ready to cry manly tears! I admit it kind of sucks that Game of Thrones has been so reticent to kill any heroes this year, but at the same time I’m glad my favorites are still alive.
One thing to note: When the Hound kicked that wight, all of the other wights reacted, right? GRRM loves to write stories about hive minds clashing against creatures of independent thought like humans. Pretty much all of his sci-fi stories touch on this theme, and while I don’t think it means very much in the show other than giving the heroes a solution to the problem of the vast numbers of the dead, I think this has massive implications for the books.
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And now the bad. Winterfell. What in the absolute eff is going on at Winterfell? Why is Arya so stupid now? Why is Sansa so stupid? Why is Littlefinger still alive? I’m so angry about all of this, and if there isn’t some sort of satisfying conclusion to this, then Winterfell is the Dorne of this season.
Sansa’s explanation of the note that Arya found is fine. It makes sense. Why is Arya pretending like Sansa had any other choice in the matter? Arya KNOWS how terrible Joffrey was. She KNOWS how terrible Cersei is. She KNOWS that Sansa had the choice to either play along or be tortured. I like that Sansa threw her bullshit back in her face about doing something to stop Ned’s execution ‘cus yeah, Arya, you didn’t do shit either.
Remember last season when Arya was watching the play, and she watched the girl playing Sansa with a mixture of longing and sadness? Remember how it seemed like she missed her family and even missed her sister whom she didn’t get along with? What happened to that? Remember just like two episodes ago when she had a tense but genuinely emotional reunion with Sansa? What happened to THAT? What happened to Sansa seeing through Littlefinger’s shit!? Everyone got dumber in the space of two episodes just so Littlefinger could do his schemy Littlefinger bullshit with impunity again.
My only solace in all of this is that right after Littlefinger hinted that Sansa use Brienne against Arya, Sansa sent her away. That long look she gave the door after Brienne left can be read in a few ways: either Sansa was wary of Brienne, thinking that she might side with Arya or something, or Sansa saw through Littlefinger’s bullshit and sent Brienne away to spite him…somehow. And then there’s the fact that in their last scene together, Arya gave Sansa the dagger after talking about cutting off faces and wearing them. I hope…HOPE that Arya has been testing Sansa or something. Like she’s trying to see where her loyalties lie and make sure Sansa’s not a willing participant in Littlefinger’s schemes before springing a trap. I’m hoping Littlefinger dies in the finale and Arya takes his face. If so, it will bring some redemption to this Winterfell story. I’m not confident that they can pull it off in a way that isn’t dull and unsatisfying, but it’s better than Arya and Sansa being enemies because the writers just made them dumb. We’ll see. Hopefully I’m singing a different tune next week.
Oh and Jon and Dany held hands and stuff, and I had absolutely zero interest.
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So yeah. This episode is weird. The mission beyond the Wall was fun; great dialogue, good action, and a Blue Eyes Wight Dragon. I give it a B. But the Winterfell stuff is a big fat F. Next week will hopefully make it a little bit better. Also it’s looking more and more like we’re getting CLEGANEBOWL!
Sorry again for being so wordy, Nikkie!
Lady MWB: Am I literally the only person in the world who really doesn’t care about Cleganebowl?? Probably. Oh well. Moving on.
So. I’m hearing you, dear readers and also my dear husband. I’m hearing all of your concerns and your annoyances. You are being heard. But. I’ve never been one to really say “What a shitty episode of Game of Thrones” because even the worst episode of this show is miles better than a lot of the other crap they’re trying to pass off as television these days—and this is coming from someone who actively chides people for comparing pieces of entertainment that come from different genres.
I love this show, so I just let it happen to me. Did I get caught up in what happened during the episode? Then it was a success for me. I’m extremely easy to please when it comes to watching consuming shows and movies (but also really easy to piss off—HOW HARD IS IT TO KEEP HAIR CONTINUITY IN FLASHBACKS, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER?!), so unfortunately I cannot join the majority of you in hatred of this episode.
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Apparently I’m talking about stuff beyond the Wall? I don’t really know what to say! Thanks for putting me on the spot, SH . . .
Obviously, my favorite part was Tormund and Sandor. I want them to be our next Kingsroad-trip pair. They deserve a spin-off that’s just them trading hilarious banter. “Dick? I like it!” “I bet.” Perfection.
I was pretty sure Thoros was going to die as we came into this episode. Mainly because a lot of people were talking about how they figured Beric was going to die, and I’m like “Well, for that to happen, Thoros has to go first or else he’ll just bring Beric back.” So when he got nommed on by that bear, I was like “Yeah, that seems about right.” But also, for a split second, I was like IS THAT ABOUT TO BE GHOST?! because it would’ve been awesome if Ghost burst onto the scene, having followed Jon to help out but also giving him major side-eye for leaving him behind in the first place. (Although . . . And obviously ignoring the whole “The dog portraying Ghost died/cost of the CGI” thing, perhaps Jon wanted to leave Ghost behind so he could protect Sansa just in case, considering she’s been without a direwolf for a long time.) Anyway. My point is that I was pretty shocked when Thoros didn’t immediately die after the bear attack, and it seemed like there was no point in dragging his barely living body around just to have it die in the middle of the night while they were marooned.
The battle scene was intense. Not quite Battle of the Bastards intense, which I do think I’ll say stressed me out more than Field of Fire 2.0 because the odds were really stacked against the people I wanted to win in the former as opposed to the latter, but still intense because how do you merk a bunch of zombos?! I feel like we’ve seen that it’s pretty damn difficult, and the fact that they were so greatly outnumbered was just like HOW WILL THEY EVEN MAKE IT OUT?!
Enter Dany, straight up with dem dragons. You were all there, so I don’t need to talk about how easily she lit up those zombo-fools. But even though you were there, I absolutely have to pour one out for Viserion. Because that actively hurt me to watch. Not because I really cared about Dany’s non-Drogon dragons (I wasn’t even aware that was Viserion until multiple people on the internet said so) but because HE BASICALLY EXPLODED. That was so rough to watch. It was one of the first things I thought about when I woke up post-episode, and I’m still messed up. What a heart-wrenching scene. Especially the way Drogon and Rhaegal just keened with sorrow; much like the zombos’ hive-mind reaction to that one getting kicked, they felt that spear drive home and extinguish their brother’s flame.
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And I know a lot of people are like: Where the fuck did those chains come from? SH posed that this likely isn’t the first time the White Walkers and their zombo army have come across dragons, so they likely had tactics lined up for a long time. And I’ll buy that. But HOW DID THEY KNOW TO GET THAT READY FOR THIS PARTICULAR ENCOUNTER?! Answer me that, show people. Answer. Me. That.
Do they have the ability to see into the future? I could see some credibility to that. After all, they were created by the Children of the Forest (according to the show), and the CoF can see through time with the help of the weirwood trees. So there’s a possibility that somehow the White Walkers have a talent for seeing through time. In fact, it would answer how they knew when to come for Craster’s sons because it’s not like he could send them a text to be all “Yo. Cm pk up mai boiiiii.”
I’ve just convinced myself that they can see the future.
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Enough of the Snow-icide Squad and their nearly bungled attempt to steal a wight.
Oh wait. Shout out to Gendry. He gets the Running Man award. That Christian Bale lookin’ mofo.
Anyway. Where the hell is Bran? I know the obvious answer is “Underneath the tree, getting high off his own wizard fumes,” but I mean in a larger “Why isn’t he stepping in here?” sense. Because Bran. Boo-boo. I know you’re not technically Bran anymore, but it really seems like you should have interrupted this Sansa/Arya nonsense to be like “Hey. Littlefinger is doin’ you a heckin bamboozle.” Or just say “Hey! We do not have time for your bullshit squabbles because there’s literally so many other things going on right now.” Heck!
But I will say that I’m probably the least bothered by their bickering out of everyone I know. Sansa and Arya were never on good terms before The Shit went down, and even though The Shit has gone down, that doesn’t mean those wounds are just healed over. This is literally how every family reunion in history has ever gone. Everyone is all happy to see each other, then someone gets a little too drunk, someone else spills a little too much tea, and the drama begins. So it was really only a matter of time before things got tense between these sisters because they’re just different.
What’s upsetting for me is that Littlefinger is playing a part in it. If he weren’t, I don’t think we’d still be in this part of their story. If it were just normal sister shit, they’d already be on their way to mending fences because they’d realize that while they lead wildly different lives, that doesn’t mean they can’t work together. But because Littlefinger is here, twisting things, he’s making everyone’s actions seem a lot more nefarious than they actually are. Sansa has every right to be concerned about the way the Northern lords perceive her because they’re fickle as fuck! Arya has been fighting to get back to her family (or avenge them when she thought everyone was lost) for years, so of course she thinks that brand of loyalty is more important above everything else. Also, she’s an assassin. So much in the way Bran isn’t normal anymore, neither is she. It would require adjustments on both sides, and Littlefinger is messing it all up.
Littlefinger needs to be dead, is my point. Just go away, bro. Go die in a carriage fire.
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I’m super not here for Dany+Jon, but damn did they try and force it on us this episode. I resigned myself to a scene of them boning as I watched Dany anxiously wait for Jon to make it back to the Wall. I’m glad they didn’t, but I did feel a little bad for Jon when Dany pulled her hand out of his and he just looked so hurt. You can hold my hand any day!!! *eyebrow waggle*
So that was the episode. What could POSSIBLY happen in the season finale next week? Off the top of our heads? Cleganebowl (although the basis for this is up in the air—literally what is the motivation for the characters?). The Night King will use VICErion (do you see what we did there?) to bring down the Wall. Cersei will do some kinda heckin bamboozle. Euron (and Yara??) haaaaaaaas to show up again, right? No matter what, we can say for certain that our hearts will explode multiple times until we are dead piles of deadness.
We may have to start drinking now.
May your undead uncles save your skins at the last possible second,
Lord and Lady MWB